Bicycle Traffic Incident Characteristics
Review of traffic incidents involving bicyclists in Palmdale reveal typical characteristics found in other cities.
- Bicyclists are at fault in approximately 80 percent of traffic incidents in which bicyclists are involved. The percentage is even higher for children.
- Failing to yield the right-of-way to others is the primary cause of approximately 30 percent of bicycle related incidents.
- Riding on the wrong side of the road is the cause of approximately another 30 percent of the incidents.
- Improper turning and failure to obey Stop signs and traffic signals combine to be the primary cause of approximately 25 percent of the incidents involving bicyclists.
Safe Bicycle Riding Practices
Persons riding bicycles are subject to the same laws as drivers of vehicles. Safe practices and laws directed toward reducing the frequency of incidents include the following.
- Bicyclists should carefully look in all directions for vehicles, other bicyclists, and pedestrians. Special care should be used when near intersections or driveways where vehicles may be turning.
- Bicyclists should not dart across roadways. This will increase the potential of not being seen by vehicle drivers.
- At busy intersections, children should walk the bicycle across the intersection.
- Bicycles should be ridden in a bicycle lane when provided, or as close to the right edge of the roadway as practicable in the same direction as cars. Exceptions include: when passing another bicycle in the same direction, when preparing for a left turn, when necessary to avoid an unsafe condition (such as an object in the roadway), or when a separate right-turn lane is provided and the bicycle is proceeding straight.
- Bicycles should be ridden in single file.
- A proper helmet should be worn at all times. A helmet is required for bicyclists under 18 years of age.
- Bicycles should not be ridden on sidewalks.
- Light colored clothing and proper reflectors and lights should be used, especially at night. Bicyclists should not rely on drivers to see them.
- A bicycle should never be used to carry more people than it was designed to carry. People should not ride on handlebars.
- Vehicle drivers should recognize that bicycle riders have a right to use the roadway.
- The California Driver Handbook and California Vehicle Code may be obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles for additional information on laws and safe riding practices.
Teaching Bicycle Safety to Children
Teaching children about traffic safety requires repetitive discussions and examples. The bicycle may be seen as a step toward operating a vehicle. The following tips may be of assistance.
- Children should be taught to operate a bicycle and practice where there are no cars. It is important for the child to learn to signal, turn, slow down and stop without falling. Hand signals for turns are the same as for vehicle operators.
- Set a good example. Behave responsively as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or driver.
- Children should be taught to be defensive. A child should not assume a driver sees them. In essence, the child is near invisible. Even when the child is not at fault, the child will be hurt or killed in a match with a vehicle.
- Never allow children to play in or near a street. Watching children while playing in the street should not be considered safe. The parent probably will not be able to react in time to prevent an incident, and it teaches the child the incorrect message about staying out of streets except when necessary.
- Avoid crossing streets at mid-block, especially when parked vehicles may obstruct vision. Use Stop signs, traffic signals, and crossing guards when available.
- When crossing a street, do not assume a green light or WALK light means it is safe to cross. Look for traffic.
- Children should not follow others or ride to others when they call until a safe crossing is available.
Teach Children Actively
- Teach children about traffic laws, and encourage them to ask questions when they are unsure of what to do.
- Discuss safety with children frequently.